WAUKESHA, Wis. – After successfully pleading insanity while on trial for killing two police officers in 1975, a sane Wisconsin man who has spent 38 years in a mental institution was told Friday he'd be released by the end of the month.
Alan Randall's impending release comes after years of petitioning; a jury decided this spring he should be freed. A judge signed an agreement Friday that Randall, 55, will be released by Sept. 30.
The widow and sister of one of Randall's victims, Rocky Atkins, didn't want him to return to Waukesha County. The state said Friday it has arranged for living arrangements in another county, clearing the way for his soon-to-be release.
Randall was 16 when he gunned down two Waukesha County police officers, ambushing them as they drove up to the police station, which Randall had burglarized. He was tried as an adult and convicted of the homicides.
But during a second phase of the trial, he was found not guilty by reason of insanity — a plea that prosecutors didn't challenge. Instead of serving time in prison, Randall was committed indefinitely to a mental hospital.
The doctors who treated him eventually concluded he wasn't mentally ill, and because he never required anti-psychotic medication, several experts said it was likely he was sane all along.
His behavior in the institution had been so exemplary that he'd earned privileges — such as the right to work a full-time job at an art gallery. Waukesha County prosecutor Brad Schimel said that if Randall had shown the same model behavior in prison, he might have been paroled after 17 to 20 years — as early as 1992.
Randall began petitioning for his freedom in 1989. But his requests were repeatedly rejected as the judge wondered whether the homicidal trigger was gone. Finally this spring, a jury recommended Randall be released.
Atkins' widow, Karen Herbert, has been to every hearing, and doesn't believe Randall is contrite.
"I think that's what's made it so difficult, to say, 'I forgive you for what you did,' because there's no recognition of doing anything wrong," she said.
Randall will soon have to adjust to living on his own, something he's never done.
Randall wasn't released earlier this summer because the state needed time to find a place for him to live that would help ease him back into the world as a free man, a transition officials want to navigate carefully to improve his chances of re-integration.
Officials also needed to find housing in a county other than Waukesha. While Herbert and Atkins' sister were resigned to his eventual release, they didn't want him to return to their county. Nor did Randall want to go back, hoping instead to stay in one of the two counties where he'd been committed because he had job offers from his work-release experiences.
AP writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report. Dinesh Ramde can be reached at email@example.com.